Theory of Work Adjustment

The Theory of Work Adjustment (TWA) describes the relationship of the individual to his or her work environment. TWA was developed as the guiding framework for a program of research in vocational psychology, and this is the area of its greatest application today. TWA has led to the development of the instruments and materials as well as a series of research monographs, The Minnesota Studies in Vocational Rehabilitation

The following statements briefly summarize the main points of the Theory of Work Adjustment as presented in A Psychological Theory of Work Adjustment: An Individual-Differences Model and Its Applications, by René V. Dawis and Lloyd H. Lofquist. Earlier statements of the Theory of Work Adjustment were published as Minnesota Studies in Vocational Rehabilitation Monograph XV, A Theory of Work Adjustment and Monograph XXIII, A Theory of Work Adjustment (A Revision).

  • Work is conceptualized as an interaction between an individual and a work environment.
  • The work environment requires that certain tasks be performed, and the individual brings skills to perform the tasks.
  • In exchange, the individual requires compensation for work performance and certain preferred conditions, such as a safe and comfortable place to work.
  • The environment and the individual must continue to meet each other's requirements for the interaction to be maintained. The degree to which the requirements of both are met may be called correspondence.
  • Work adjustment is the process of achieving and maintaining correspondence. Work adjustment is indicated by the satisfaction of the individual with the work environment, and by the satisfaction of the work environment with the individual--by the individual's satisfactoriness.
  • Satisfaction and satisfactoriness result in tenure, the principal indicator of work adjustment. Tenure can be predicted from the correspondence of an individual's work personality with the work environment.
  • Work personalities and work environments can be described in terms of structure and style variables that are measured on the same dimensions.

The instruments and materials available from Vocational Psychology Research measure the work personality and work environments, thus allowing prediction of degree of person-job correspondence.